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Tuesday, April 1, 2014

Third Degree By Julie Cross

A Review By Wendy
5 Not One False Note Anywhere Stars
* * * * * 

Take one part Doogie Houser ( yup, I saw it in prime time, so I know), one part Grey’s Anatomy, another part House and finish with every feeling, every insecurity, every everything you experienced during those awful years of 18 to 21 and you have this amazing read.

We have all been there at one point in our lives …. We really think all this stuff in our heads has made us different…. or weird… or not normal. We want to do something… be the best at whatever has caught our fancy… and we strive to beat others at it… it doesn’t matter what the activity is… we just want to be the best and have the recognition from those we care about … we are good.

We also fight to fit in while doing it. For some it is easy… and for those when it is not…. it can be extremely painful and cause a whole other set of thoughts.

Well, ponder this…. Think of how intense and complex all of those normal feelings and experiences would be and multiple it by a billion if you were a child prodigy. Oh, and then make it that you were in foster care till your adoptive family found at 5. You were so advanced, you entered college at 12; became a doctor and interned all by 18. Your whole life experience is on the brink and you are about to accomplish everything you think you want by becoming a resident at The John Hopkins only to have it ripped away from in one fell swoop….

Because you have been labeled emotionally immature; not yet ready to be a doctor. Hell, you have performed numerous surgeries, diagnosed hundreds of patients correctly, but No… some psychologist (not even an MD) thinks your bedside manner and interaction with others sucks…

This is just the beginnings of the hurdles thrown at Isabel/Izzy, our medical genius. She is stunned and shocked. She knows she is the best in her field of surgery and diagnostics, yet she also knows she is awkward in regular people situations. Although angered and frustrated, she decides to go to a small college 2 hours away from her Chicago home and take a few classes. It will be her first school type experience since kindergarten. She was so brilliant at such an early age, other kids bullied her causing her mom to home school in order to spare Izzy. What Izzy wasn’t spared was the notoriety of being advanced so she is hoping none of the kids she meets there will have any idea of who she really is… it will be her chance to be “normal” and be like every other freshman.

The plan had merit but did not take into account Marshall…. The RA of her dorm. As luck would have it, he was in her mother’s biology class in high school. He has grown into this gorgeous specimen of guy; lanky, lean with piercing blue eyes. He is meeting all the people he will oversee on her floor and a connection is made. At first Izzy is freaking  out because he knows Who and What she is… but in the long run they strike a deal of sorts… he will open her eyes to life differently… and she will tutor him in his premed needs.

This story was just perfect for me… there was no false note anywhere. You had a woman/child who had a very complicated life all in her head… she couldn’t turn off her thoughts or the noise… and was social inept due to legitimate reasons.   Her parents thought they were doing right by protecting her from the bullies at school… but they also didn’t give her the everyday experiences we all have which makes us learn how to finesse life… how to be emphatic…. how to read people when things are going south in a conversation and work around it… we learn these things from trial and error as we grow up. These lessons can be extremely painful… but they are necessary to our development as people. To shield a mind like Izzy’s from those types of experiences was to hold her back and not give her the tools she needed.
Marshall was swoon worthy… he had a sly sense of humor… was wise beyond his years. He was Everything Izzy needed and more. He also had the best, quirky, openly loving family, ever. The passages with Izzy, Marshall and his family were hysterical and heartwarming. Both Marshall and Izzy had secrets and specifics which caused them both pain…. But together they healed them… together they were strong and sweet. Together they were wonderful.

There were many other issues addressed in this book besides the coming of age or maturity … and I felt they were handled well. Each step had a firm foundation so you never felt the whole kitchen sink was thrown in just to get a reaction. All of the pieces fit perfectly.

All of secondary characters seemed real. Meeting your roommates; having others on campus interact and maybe crush on you… these are perfect parts of life experiences for Izzy to have. They all rang true.

Julie Cross has written a terrific book… one which will stay with me for quite a while. Although the premise is quite unique… I have no idea of the percentage of child prodigies there are in the world… the unifying theme of not feeling normal or fitting in… is universal. She has given us a beautiful book to read; to remember our experiences during those critical years and accept we are all wonderful as we are. Thank you, Ms. Cross.

A gifted copy was provided by author/publisher for an honest review.

I'm the author of the YA sci-fi trilogy, the Tempest series (St. Martin's Press). I'm also the author of the YA contemporary novel, Letters To Nowhere.

But even more importantly than the above, I'm a fan of books and an avid reader/reviewer. Keep in mind, however, that a review is just one person's opinion, one perspective. My goal is to show as much bias in my reviews as possible because this makes it easier for you to decide if your perspective is similar to mine or different. Everyone's tastes are different. I like books with emotion and believability. I don't mind edgy and heavy themes. I also like humor and quirk. I like weird characters in odd situations.

I have low tolerance for insta-love, flowery sex scenes, or mushy declarations of feelings. Not a fan of possessive/controlling male characters who get the girl in the end. When I recommend books, I always ask about favorite current reads and cater to each person's taste.

I believe every book plays an important role whether I love it or hate, it's having an effect on society. It's changing, shaping, and molding the future of publishing. Regardless of my feelings about a book, I value the author's time and effort put into creating their work. I only rate books available for purchase (or soon-to-be available) and consider those books as published works and their creators as professionals in their field therefore I treat them as professionals, giving my honest opinion on the work itself and not the person producing it.

If I rate a book and don't provide any written review and you'd like to hear my thoughts, feel free to comment on the review and if I can, I'll explain my reasoning behind the rating. I don't mind authors commenting on any review I post - negative or positive. Also happy to email to discuss Juliecrossauthor (at) gmail (dot) com please alert me if I misled readers or given false information (accidentally of course) and I'll correct the situation as soon as possible.

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